Man suffers permanent disabilities after pile-driving rig collapse

Published 10 Apr 2017

A construction site worker who was underneath a pile-driving rig when it collapsed may be eligible to make a total and permanent disability (TPD) claim following the accident due to the ongoing injuries he sustained.

The incident occurred in 2006 when workers were erecting the rig's mast. An auxiliary cable snapped as the hook and gear at the end of the wire came into contact with the cathead.

The items were too small to fit through the cathead's sheath, creating significant tension on the cable, which eventually broke. According to NSW Supreme Court documents, the tension equalled approximately 28 tonnes - seven tonnes above the cable's design strength.

Several metal objects from the rig fell and struck the employee on his head, neck and chest, causing a number of severe injuries, some of which continue to cause the man problems.

Accident liability and disabilities

The case came before the court because the man filed a public liability claim for negligence against the company for which he was contracting at the time.

Justice Stephen Rothman ruled in the plaintiff's favour, meaning he will receive several hundred thousand dollars' worth of compensation, with $332,750 awarded for non-economic losses alone.

The man will receive a further $163,317 for out-of-pocket expenses and more than $31,000 for medical expenses to replace and maintain a nerve stimulator device that was fitted to the base of his skull in an effort to ease his pain.

The plaintiff will also receive payments to cover his past and future loss of income, which Justice Rothman claimed should be calculated and confirmed between the two parties.

Furthermore, the extent of the man's disabilities could entitle him to TPD benefits provided he has a superannuation fund or insurance policy that covers such incidents.

Eligibility for a TPD claim

Since the accident, the man continues to suffer from constant pain in his face, jaw and teeth. He also experiences emotional and behavioural problems, which neurologists calculated at a 20 per cent whole person impairment level.

Not only does the plaintiff have poor memory and mood swings, but he also developed depression and his social life has deteriorated.

The neurologists agreed that the man would be unable to return to his pre-accident duties, and he is unlikely to ever get a job in the future due to the extent of his injuries. As such, he may be entitled to make a TPD claim in addition to the damages he was awarded from his liability case.

Would you like to know more about TPD claims? Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Superannuation Lawyers.

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